Republicans struggled to court minority voters long before Donald Trump became the party’s standard-bearer. Trump has made headlines in the last few months for having extremely low support among black voters ― as low as 0 percent in some swing states, according to a few polls.
But despite Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and charges of racism and bigotry, he’s actually not doing worse among black voters than other recent GOP presidential nominees. Mitt Romney struggled in 2012, garnering only 6 percent of the black vote. A mid-August 2012 poll showed his support among the demographic at 0 percent. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) only got 4 percent of the black vote in 2008.
To be fair, Romney and McCain were running against the first black nominee for a major political party. The last elected Republican president, George W. Bush, did a little better. In 2000, Bush pulled 9 percent of the black vote against then-Vice President Al Gore. During his re-election bid in 2004 against then-Sen. John Kerry, Bush won 11 percent of the black vote.
Trump has also struggled with Hispanic voters. In recent polling, his support ranges from 20 percent to 28 percent among the voting bloc. Romney and McCain’s level of support among Hispanics in 2012 and 2008, respectively, were comparable to where Trump’s is now. Twenty-seven percent of the Hispanic vote went to Romney in 2012, and 31 percent went to McCain in 2008.
Conventional wisdom holds Trump can only win this year if he holds down the states Romney won in 2012 and wins over some crucial swing states that Romney lost. But since Trump isn’t doing better than Romney among black and Hispanic voters, these states could be difficult to win.
Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri ― states that have swung Republican in most recent elections despite having relatively large African-American populations ― show a tight race, with Hillary Clinton trailing by only 2 to 4 percentage points, according to HuffPost Pollster charts. And North Carolina, which has the seventh-highest African-American population nationally but has voted Republican in eight of the 10 most recent elections, currently shows Clinton leading by an average of 3 percentage points.
Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio ― the three states characterized as most likely to swing the election one way or the other, according to FiveThirtyEight’s “tipping-point” model ― might also prove difficult for Trump to win. Florida boasts the sixth-highest Hispanic and 11th-highest black population in the country. Pennsylvania and Ohio both have larger-than-average African-American populations.